Arun knows how to build a strong team. He has a way of convincing people, with charm, to join him in his work, in his commitment to social justice. And I have noticed that when he speaks he has a way of easily connecting with the other person, whether a security guard, an auto rickshaw driver, a waiter, a politician, or a donor.
I first met Arun in 2007 on a Buddhist youth retreat in Nagpur. We connected since I was on my way, after the retreat, to visit Kerala. That brief encounter was the beginning of a collaboration to provide scholarships for 10 Kerala students for the Nagpur NNBY retreat the following year. Then in 2008 we started discussing leading our own retreat. And, somehow, in 2009, we offered our first Jai Bhim Kerala retreat, led by Arun, Rejimon and me, supported by one cook, with 15 students in attendance, all young men. It is amazing how our work has since evolved.
Our student base has expanded to include young men and women from all over Kerala. We have built a strong, committed support team that leaves their paid work for one week to volunteer to join our camp. Other committed Buddhists help us co-lead our afternoon workshops. We have just completed our 4th annual Jai Bhim Kerala retreat, and it is thanks to Arun's vision, resourcefulness and talent that it was such a success.
Our Jai Bhim community in Kerala is getting stronger, and has already gathered for a reunion to review the themes on our recent camp. In the year ahead, Arun and his team will start creating their own Communicative English Institute, which was a 5-year goal we had set on our first retreat in 2007! It is a joy to be part of the Jai Bhim Kerala community.
I celebrate Arun's commitment to his own learning and self-development. I celebrate the way he includes others and encourages them to contribute their own talents. It is hard work what we have done together. But there is always a lot of laughter and always space to relax and take a breath. Sadhu, Arun. Jai Bhim! -Dayamudra